THE fortune of Bendigo’s Fortuna Village may have changed, after a plan to ensure the ongoing maintenance of the 1860s estate was delivered to City of Greater Bendigo last Wednesday by former mayor Daryl McClure and Goldmines Hotel owner Rick Walduck.
The proposal suggests the formation of the Fortuna Commission, appointed by the state Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, to oversee 40 residences developed on the southern side of the property near barracks built in the 1960s.
A further 200 lots will be built on 14 hectares of surrounding Crown land near Chum Street.
The proposal also suggests rates collected from the properties for the first 10 years should be donated by the council to the Fortuna Commission fund.
Mr McClure said the capital raised by the properties and the rates, estimated to be about $32 million, would then be invested to maintain the estate for the public perpetually. He said the proposal was the best solution to the ongoing problem of what to do with the estate, which is currently owned by the Department of Defence.
The three-storey, 60-room mansion was up for sale by tender but failed to sell in January.
It is understood the department is looking to auction the site in May.
Mr McClure said all three forms of government must work collaboratively to ensure the villa was restored with minimal cost to the public.
“A whole range of approaches have been tried and haven’t worked,” he said. “The real concern is that the property is considered so large and complex that no level of government want to be directly responsible for it.
“But this proposes that the Fortuna Commission will be responsible for the development of the property, its maintenance, restoration and ongoing management.”
Mr McClure said the proposal received a “good reception” from the council and he would work to further develop the proposal to take to the state and federal governments, which could happen within weeks.
“The councillors gave every indication that they are very keen to proceed with this plan,” he said.
“One would hope local members for parliament are also willing to take it to state and federal governments.”
Bendigo council will be asked at tomorrow’s council meeting to write to the prime minister, minister for defence, premier and deputy premier seeking their support.